by Maya Castillo, President
SEIU AZ Local 48
We congratulate President Obama for urging Congress and our nation to work together on an immigration plan this year that includes a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants now in the country without documents.
On January 28, SEIU AZ Local 48 joined forces with other organizations advocating for immigration reform and held a press conference at the State Capitol. Together, we highlighted the importance of keeping families together and emphasized the positive impact immigration reform would have on our economy in Arizona and across the nation.
At SEIU, we think of Comprehensive Immigration Reform as “Commonsense Immigration Reform.” It makes sense to keep families together – and it makes sense for Arizona’s economy, too. A study by the Center for American Progress says that just by gaining legal status as they begin the citizenship process, immigrant workers in Arizona would add 39,000 jobs to our state’s economy and grow tax revenues by $540 million dollars.
To give you some perspective, last year, $18 billion dollars was spent nationally on immigration enforcement — about 24% more than was spent on the FBI, DEA, Secret Service, U. S. Marshalls Service and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives combined.
Passing commonsense immigration reform would lead to better wages for all workers – and an immigration process that goes after employers who undercut honest employers by taking advantage of cheap labor.
And everyone, including employers, would be paying their fair share of taxes – taxes that fund our schools, libraries, parks and countless other services we take for granted until we don’t have the budget to pay for them. Undocumented workers in Arizona want to pay taxes. Giving them a path to citizenship will strengthen our state and recognize the contributions they already make here every day.
President Obama’s words (click here for the full transcript) remind us that our greatness as a nation comes from the people who built it, the workers who sustain it, and our children who will be our future leaders, engineers, teachers and military service members, regardless of their country of origin or ancestry.
We urge Congress to pass immigration reform that keeps families together and creates a pathway to citizenship. When we do that we’ll create a more humane and just society, and Arizona and the rest of the U. S. will benefit economically, too. It just makes common sense.